Monday, July 26, 2010

Welcome back How I Became the Bomb frontman and weekly Surfing the Bleed contributor Jon Burr as he reviews some of last week's comics.

Amazing Spider-Man #637
I pity the creative team for this now-concluded Spidey arc. It’s not that it was bad. It’s not that it was mediocre. It just wasn’t the mind-bending, savage, and haunting arc that was Zeb Wells’ and Chris Bachalo’s “Shed.” Stop reading this review. Go get those issues. I’ll wait. Don’t dawdle. There. I’ll carry on now. This arc, The Grim Hunt, by Joe Casey and mostly Michael Lark, was good comics, though, pulling together, not unlike its eponymous arachnid, different strands from eras recent and bygone to tell a compelling tale. I know most people will bemoan the usage of characters and themes from Joe Straczynski’s subtotemic storyline, but I found it rather ballsy. I also loved that they gave J.M. DeMatteis the back-up, seeing as they played on his and Mike Zeck’s iconic Kraven’s Last Hunt so well. The only blight on the run has been Stan Lee’s bewildering two-pager backup tales but, hey, it’s Swingin’ Stan. So, all in all, ASM continues bringing the quality, thrice monthly, which you can’t really beat.

Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine #2
Boy howdy, can Jason Aaron write the Marvel Universe?! As loathe as I am to use the term “world-building,” Aaron has done just that in just two issues. Now many will point to Aaron hijacking plots from other works, mostly genre films, and just inserting Marvel characters into them but, hey, it makes for good comics. We’ve seen elements of First Blood and Terminator in his Weapon X series, but now we’ve got some full-on Charlton Heston end o’ the world sci-fi on our hands. And I couldn’t enjoy it more. I’d love to divulge more detail, but he packs so many easter eggs and surprises on each even-numbered page, that I wouldn’t dare risk spoiling it for you, dear reader. Oh, and Adam Kubert’s no slouch either.

Superman #701
J. Michael Strazcynski has the skills. The man can tell a story. I know this. I’ve read his work. He’s also not afraid to be daring. He’ll tell the story he wants to tell, and keep telling, regardless of reception. I know these things about JMS. Now what I want to know is if he is half the sanctimonious ass he makes Supes out to be. This is rough reading, folks. Superman basically walks around, staring down would-be jaywalkers, street toughs, and the like, pontificating like some sort of awful amalgamation of Tony Robbins and Thoreau, the latter of whom is quoted extensively unfortunately, as opposed to an alien in long-johns. The art doesn’t help as, skilled as Eddy Barrows might be, the poses and facial expressions given to Supes don’t help reduce the burning desire to stop, put down the comic, and pick up my copy of Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? I swear, if Superman had thoughtfully clutched his chin once more, as he sat in judgment over some poor normal human sap, I would have done just that.

The Bulletproof Coffin #2
There aren’t many comics out there that can make a lowly reviewer traipse through his mind searching for the apt adjectives quite like this one. Shaky Kane’s art is creepy, yet undeniably beautiful; static, yet alive; homage, yet wonderfully new. These seemingly contradictory descriptions are not limited to just the art. Coffin is a book of comics within comics. Kane, along with co-writer and scripter David Hine, have created a series that looks at Silver Age comics with nostalgia, but does not turn a blind eye to the strangeness and somewhat emotionally stunted nature of the era. The story is able to harken back to a bygone era, while existing in its own unique not-so-distant future or perhaps even a twisted, satirical present. Despite the book-within-book nature of the work, it’s not too metatextual that it can’t be enjoyed by someone just looking for kicks and vibrant art. This comic is able to interpret and possess so many aspects of the genre, serving as a book that can really serve the reader however he chooses. For fans of Alan Moore, Steve Ditko, and Jack Kirby. Yea, it’s that good.

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